Communities Peddle Trails for Economic, Health Benefits

October 20, 2016 3:08 PM | Anonymous

Source: Cincinnati Enquirer

Bike to Work Week may have been in May, but Rob Pasquinucci bikes to work throughout the year.

Pasquinucci, who is a member of the Cincinnati Cycle Club and a former board member of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Council, is excited by what he is hearing about the proposed East Side trails.

“I’m optimistic,” he said. “There is a lot of momentum. It’s just a matter of finding the financing.”

Pasquinucci said during the summer he cycles to work at least once a week. He said completion of the Oasis Trail would allow for half of his ride to be on a bike trail.

“I ride on the road, but I don’t blame a lot of folks who don’t want to do that for safety reasons,” he said, adding that additional bike trails would help alleviate some of those concerns.

Pasquinucci said in addition to being beneficial to a community for a variety of reasons, bike trails often don’t require a significant change to the surrounding infrastructure.

“Specifically, you’re not having to change the existing roads and highways,” he said.

While communities continue to focus on improving hiking and biking opportunities, several proposed trails are under discussion that will further enhance the trail riding experience.

Both the Oasis Trail and Wasson Way have received a significant amount of attention in recent months.

Anderson Township will have a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of a new section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail in May, while Clermont County is preparing for an expansion of the Clermont County trail this summer.

In addition, a former Hyde Park Neighborhood Council board member says the recent attention given to bike trails in the area is appropriate.

Oasis Trail

Terrace Park resident Don Mills originally got involved in promoting scenic bike trails through his efforts to have the Little Miami Scenic Trail connected to Terrace Park.

He now serves as a board member on several committees including the Ohio to Erie Trail, Ohio River Way and Cincinnati Connects.

Mills and Ohio River Way have been focusing on expanding bike trail opportunities in the Tristate.

Among the trails the organization has been focusing on is the Oasis Trail, which would extend 4.75 miles from Lunken Park to Smale Park.

The trail would incorporate unused railroad tracks near Lunken Airport.

The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority owns the right of way for these tracks and has voted in support of building this trail, Mills said.

The project will cost an estimated $5 million. Ohio River Way, which is spearheading the project, is working with a number of public and private entities to procure funding for the project.

The city of Cincinnati has also donated a significant amount for the project.

Mills said the Oasis Trail is essential in completing the southern section of the Ohio to Erie Trail, which will extend 330 miles throughout the state of Ohio.

Additionally, it will serve as a connection to the Ohio River Trail near Lunken Airport, he said.

Mills said a goal is to have the Oasis Trail completed in 2018. He said once it is completed , the trail is expected to have an estimated one million users.

He said the trail also has a light rail component.

Mills said cooperation among various groups is a key component.

“Doing it collectively with all of the government agencies working together improves the possibility of completing each individual project,” he said.

Wasson Way

While the city of Cincinnati is looking at ways to raise $11.7 million to buy the rail line for the Wasson Way trail, the Wasson Way organization is continuing to raise awareness and generate interest in the trail.

The Wasson Way Project involves converting 7.6 miles of railroad track into a recreational hiking and biking trail which would extend from Victory Parkway near the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University to the Little Miami Scenic Trail.

The trail will run through nine neighborhoods including Hyde Park, Oakley, Mount Lookout, Mariemont and Fairfax, among others.

The Wasson Way organization will have several events in May.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, May 7, guests will have an opportunity to walk along the proposed trail route. A group will meet at the Hyde Park Busken Bakery, 2675 Madison Road. Free coffee and doughnuts will be provided.

The route will be about 2.6 miles.

Then at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 15, a “Wheelin’ for Wasson” event is planned. The event will be a family-friendly bike ride along the Little Miami Scenic Trail. Participants should meet at the Fifty West, 7650 Wooster Pike.

Registration for this can be done online at http://wassonway.org/news/.

Susan Schaefer, president of the Wasson Way organization, said people attending the events will learn about the construction phases for the trail which are planned.

The first phase of the trail will extend from Madison Road in Hyde Park to Tamarack Avenue in the Norwood/Evanston area.

The second phase of the project will extend from Tamarack Avenue to Montgomery Road.

Schaefer said it is estimated that about 100,000 people will live within a mile of the Wasson Way trail.

“The closer you live to a trail, the more likely you’ll use it for both recreation and transportation,” she said.

Schaefer said a planned connection to the Little Miami Scenic Trail will provide significant benefits.

“I think there is certainly an opportunity for connections (with other trails), and I think Wasson Way could be the first step toward creating a larger network,” Schaefer said.

Pasquinucci is also excited by the potential offered by the Wasson Way trail.

“The nice part about these trails is there is something for everyone,” he said. “With Wasson connecting to the Little Miami Trail, you’ll have almost unlimited mileage (for cycling).”

Connections from Anderson Township, beyond

Anderson Township is an integral part of the regional bike trail connectivity efforts. Last fall work began on a 3.15-mile extension of the Little Miami Scenic Trail starting at the Great Parks of Hamilton County Little Miami Golf Center and extending through Anderson Township to the area where Ohio 32 meets the Beechmont Levee. There will be a ribbon cutting and celebration for the official opening of this new section of trail starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at the Little Miami Golf Center, 3811 Newtown Road.

Great Parks and Anderson Township collaborated to make this trail connection possible and continue efforts to further extend the trail, Anderson Township Planner Tom Caruso said. The Little Miami Trail is part of the larger Ohio to Erie trail. When it’s done, and it’s about 90 percent complete, the trail will extend from downtown Cincinnati to Lake Erie in Cleveland, all off of the road.

“This will be one of largest and longest trails in the country,” Caruso said.

The township and Great Parks are now working to generate dollars to fund a bridge to connect the Little Miami Scenic Trail to the Lunken Airport Trail and Armleder Park Trail.

“People will almost be able to get down to Cincinnati,” he said.

Newtown Mayor Mark Kobasuk welcomes the Saturday, May 21, opening of a 3.15-mile extension of the Little Miami Scenic Trail, stretching from the Little Miami Golf Center at 3811 Newtown Road in Newtown through Anderson Township to the Beechmont Avenue/state Route 32 ramp interchange.

The project is connecting communities through their public parks, including Newtown’s Short Park at 3623 Church St.

“This is a great bike trail,” Kobasuk said.

Whether the trail will ever connect with Lake Barber Park in Newtown remains to be seen.

Newtown opened the park off Round Bottom and Edwards roads last year but is still studying ideas for its long-term development.

Business, community and Newtown village leaders brought together by a consultant have said they would like to see Lake Barber Park connected to the Little Miami Scenic Trail.

Anderson Township is also part of Tri-State Trails, an initiative of Green Umbrella (formerly Regional Trails Alliance) focused on connecting Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio via trails. Group members include Hamilton, Clermont, Butler, Clinton and Warren counties in Ohio, Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties in Kentucky and counties in Indiana.

Many municipalities, townships, and parks are part of this initiative, Caruso said.

Along with the Little Miami Trail, there are efforts to extend the Ohio River Trail. A $30,000 grant from Interact for Health was recently awarded to Anderson Township for preliminary engineering for the extension of the Ohio River Trail in Anderson. When constructed, the new trail section will extend to Clermont County.

Caruso is hoping to collaborate with Clermont County Parks, Great Parks, Pierce Township and New Richmond to build the Ohio River Trail through Clermont County.

“The aim is to get all the way from downtown to New Richmond,” he said. “That’s for this part. On the other side, it will go from downtown to the Indiana border and on from there.”

Ultimately the trail will connect Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois.

The impetus behind the efforts is all focused on health. With connectivity between trails and communities, there are increased opportunities for passive and active physical activity, Caruso said. These trails also provide economic benefits with additional related development and tourism.

Clermont County

Last year a segment of the Clermont County bike trail was completed that extended the trail six miles from Williamsburg to Zagar Road in Batavia Township.

This summer another portion of the trail will be completed extending it to Greenbriar Road in Batavia.

Chris Clingman, director of the Clermont County Park District, said Short Summit Road, which connects to Zagar Road, will be paved up to Greenbriar Road. The extension will be about a mile.

Greenbriar Road will be both accessible to both cyclists and motorists in what is referred to as shared use.

Clingman said future plans for the Clermont County trail are to extend it to the William H. Harsha Lake Dam and the village of Batavia.

The trail will be about 15 miles in length.

Clingman said the paving and addition of signage should be completed in July or August.

“People really like the Zagar Road section of the trail because is is through a wooded area (and) a scenic trip through the woods, he said. “(The trail) connects to a fairly large subdivision on Zagar Road (and) provides another recreational opportunity for the people living there.”

The Milford Bike Trail and the Milford Trailhead are important assets for both economic-development and quality-of-life reasons, Milford Mayor Laurie Howland said.

“These important aspects to the vitality of the city is why council made the decision in early 2015 to purchase the trailhead,” Howland said.

“We needed to preserve our access to it.”

Howland said the bike trail, which is part of the Little Miami Scenic Trail, is a great recreational resource for residents.

“I, myself, probably run the trail three to four days a week during the spring and summer,” Howland said.

“I know of other residents who moved to Milford due to the access to the trailhead.”

The trail also brings in visitors.

“We also get a lot of cyclists who come to the city, park, ride the trail then spend another part of their day visiting our shops and dining here,” Howland said.

“Access to the trailhead is also a marketing tool that both real-estate agents and developers use when selling property.

“Extension of the bike trial will only aid in the economic development for those communities along its route,” Howland said.


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